BANGKOK – A Buddhist group has sought legal action against the student who painted the controversial Ultraman Buddha paintings. The paintings depict images of the Buddha as the 1960s Japanese superhero.
The paintings have become a topic of public debate with people denouncing them as disrespectful. While others showing supports for creative artistry of the Northern Thailand University student.
The paintings were initially displayed at Terminal 21 shopping mall in downtown Bangkok, but they have since been removed.
The Artist said she had no intention to mock the country’s most popular religion. Rather, she wanted to represent Buddha as a hero.
“I just wanted to show Buddha as a hero like Ultraman, who can resist the temptations surrounding him and also protect human beings from evil to keep the world at peace.”
Chiang Rai’s famed artist Chalermchai Kositpipat said he saw nothing offensive in the Buddha-Ultraman paintings.
The student was in tears on Saturday when she gave a formal apology to a senior monk.
Buddhist Group Files Complaint over Ultraman Buddha Paintings
But on Wednesday, the hardline group said it had filed a police complaint against the artist and four others involved in the exhibition. On the grounds that comparing the Buddha to an action figure was disrespectful.
The group wants them prosecuted under a law against insulting religion that allows imprisonment of up to seven years.
“The paintings dishonored and offended Buddhists and harmed a national treasure,” Buddhist Power of the Land representative Charoon Wonnakasinanone said.
So far, the public opinion over the matter has been divided; many believe the student did not have any ill intention to exercise her creativity. Opponents to the idea have attempted to recall the paintings from buyers for destruction.
Crime Suppression Division has accepted the request pending consideration whether to proceed to press charges on these individuals.
Under Thai law, police must investigate a complaint and recommend whether there are grounds to pursue criminal charges.